Could the Carabao Cup add some fizz to flat international breaks?

Editor F365
Jurgen Klopp celebrates Liverpool win over Leicester in Carabao Cup.

Forget writing Christmas cards and send us an email instead:


A Carabao fix?
Following on from Johnny’s latest article. Maybe I’m missing something but is the simplest way to reinvigorate the league cup just to play it during the international breaks? Infuriating International break 3 weeks in becomes League Cup Saturday. Top teams hampered by missing more players, leveling out the playing field, without making it an U23 competition.
Matt B


…I think Johnny Nic’s article on the Carabao Cup solution is on the right track. For one, I love that he acknowledges that fans care about actually winning something more than all the rest.

So on to his suggestion of playing ONLY the kids – I think it is on the right track. I really like the idea of a Carabao Cup squad of 25 that requires a minimum of say 13 U-23/Academy players (perhaps the 13 U-23/Academy don’t need to be named, or can be switched in/out etc..). If it was only kids it would devalue the trophy – I think this is a right blend. SO sure, any prem team can still name their strongest 11 in the remaining 12 spots…but far more likely they will add in squad players with one or two stars. I’d also be happy for this rule not to apply to the semi-final/final. Fair? No…but life isn’t fair and football definitely isn’t.

Other suggestions (most are half baked, but maybe I’m on to something?)

– Have the first couple of rounds in the pre-season. Allows teams to get meaningful minutes in their legs and could mean the Cup is won before Christmas. Most teams don’t complain about fixture congestion in August.

– Make the 2nd and 3rd rounds so Prem teams must face each other, so by round 4 (Round of 16) there are 8 Prem/8EFL teams left. (No,my math doesn’t work as there would be 10 PL teams…maybe two of the three promoted teams (not the champions) get put in the EFL bracket?… someone else can figure this out…) This is my favourite. A real chance for an EFL team to make semi final or even final

– Make it bracket style like a tournament so you can see your path from early on. Doesn’t change much – but maybe if you see your ‘path’ doesn’t include City/Liverpool/Chelsea you might put more in to the cup…of course the opposite also rings true

– Although I hate the thought of it (because if it works for the EFL cup you know they’ll try to make it work in the Prem), combine these ideas and play the first couple or rounds of the EFL cup as pre-season mini-tournaments in other countries for PL teams. The owners get their money generating tours, players get up to speed, fixture congestion reduced….. As I type this I feel sick and hope this never happens…but my first three ideas are good.
Steve (AFC) Australia


League Cup and the Super League
I noticed that the semis of the carabao are between 4 of the top 6 – who are lucky that another top 6 side that has won it the last 4 years got knocked out early this year.

This in a competition that they don’t care about. They play the kids, the ressies and the stiffs.

This in a competition that is supposed to be the most level playing field of all.

But we don’t want a super league as that reduces the competition.

Let them go people. You don’t need them.


Anfield atmosphere
Waiting for the reaction to Liverpool being awarded 6 lucky penalties on the same night…

I had to convince myself not to write in after the draw with Tottenham, even though I thought it was a shame to let the refereeing polemics overshadow just how good of a manager Conte is. I was even willing to ignore the idea that Liverpool supporters need to dispatch a diplomatic commission to assure others we realize their teams have previously been wronged too, and, yes, Klopp’s comments can certainly be over the top (not that I blame him, in the heat of the moment). The only thing that bothers me a bit is that these recent contentions have been favouring Man City (the lupine armpit; the birdspotting Ederson), but I can hardly blame them for it – and people even seem to prefer picking on Newcastle when it comes to “selling out.”

All in all, why would I argue with somebody I can’t punch?

So, the reason I’m writing now… That comeback did admittedly raise my mood. A bunch! But isn’t the point of being a football fan that one ought to appreciate the game, regardless of being biased towards certain teams/clubs(/regions/…affiliations)? If there exist more fundamental objections to them or to how they go about their business, surely it has less to do with what’s happening *on* the pitch than off it. Supposedly, we all like the same sport; must we derive most of our enjoyment from schadenfreude and disparaging comments? What does that say about what the sport means to us?

In other words, if you couldn’t enjoy that amazing Anfield atmosphere tonight (sure sounded like we were playing for a proper cup) – unless you’re a Leicester supporter – I’m afraid you’re quite simply missing out on something, howsoever little you think it might be. Oh, and special thanks to all the supporters who keep chanting “Liverpool” when we concede: you always make me believe we can get back in it. Have to say I didn’t expect it tonight, though!
Danilo (SIX! WHAT AN OUTRAGEOUS NUMBER!), LFC, Bosnia & Herzegovina


Timely stats
I’m half way through watching the 2nd half of the Liverpool Leicester game. There’s the expected time wasting going on, and I thought no matter how much time is added, is it ever enough?

With the endless stats we have in games these days, surely a stat to give at the end of game would be the amount of actual game time during a match.

Jim Bob Jr


Double standards
Glad to see the mailbox full of Liverpool fans condemning Morton’s tackle and the referees performance last night. Sure Uncle Jürgen will be off on one too.

Oh they won and they don’t care?


Tasty Semi finals though!


…Please make as much mailbox room as possible for the outraged Liverpool fans and their paranoid determination that they are hard done by from the officials. I’m really keen to hear how they explain the 4 hours of injury time that weirdly ended once their equaliser was in the net.

Many thanks,
Dr Oyvind, Earth


Klopp pile-on
Twas the day before the night before Christmas, and all across the land, grown adults were getting themselves all giddy over the fact that one of the best football managers in the world got a bit frustrated at work. It makes you think. Season of good will and peace to all men, and all that.

But seriously, the level of excitement and piling on that inevitably follows the occasional match like this is as inevitable as it is predictable. Every time the same well-worn cliches get rolled out. Liverpool fans apparently see their team as “up there with Ghandi, Mandela and the Dalai Lama”, and what’s this? The secret to beating Liverpool, a team that topped 95 points in 2 of the last 3 seasons, is “they don’t like it up ’em”. Right you are.

Please, I know a lot of people have already finished work by now and are probably bored, but can we please not go through all this again. Liverpool are a fantastic, but fallible football team. Probably one of the best of the Premier League era, in fact. Klopp is a fantastic, but fallible coach and human being. Liverpool have a fantastic, but (obviously) fallible fanbase.

Literally every time a result like this happens the mailbox is full of the same nonsense. Then Liverpool go on another good run and it all goes quiet again. Until next time.

Meanwhile, the sensible ones among us, Liverpool fans or not, see a man getting annoyed about another man’s incompetence ruining his day and realise this happens to us all. This does not make us (or him) a bully, however much you want that to be true. At worst it makes him a winner who hates losing. Like pretty much every other great manager ever.

People are so desperate to see fallibility as weakness that they jump all over every minor stumble, in the hope that the rubbish they come out with is true.

Meanwhile, the Mighty Reds keep on doing what they do.

Merry Christmas all.


…To answer Andy (MUFC), he’s right, of course, that the decision to send Mane off against City in 2017 was the right one but the rest of his mail is, as he seems to recognise, one-eyed criticism by a Utd fan.

Liverpool commit relatively few fouls, it’s not that referees are especially lenient when fouls are committed. To take the full seasons since Klopp’s appointment, Liverpool have committed the least number of fouls per match in the PL in 2018-19 and 2019-20 and the 2nd equal lowest in 2017-18. In the other seasons they were the fourth cleanest side in 2016-17 and 7th cleanest last season (perhaps, to give Andy some credence, an effect of there being no fans). This season, interestingly, Liverpool are 13th cleanest, and are committing about 1.5 more fouls per game than in previous seasons (though slightly fewer than last season).

Of course, the number of fouls don’t automatically correlate with the severity of fouls and Liverpool tend to commit a lot of their fouls in the opposition half when refs (rightly or wrongly) are less likely to give out yellows. This is because a) Liverpool tend to be on the attack in most games and b) their pressing style leads to a significant number of fouls related to those actions which again (rightly or wrongly) tend not to get punished with yellows.

Andy needs to have a serious word with himself regarding the Salah handball. Under the laws of the game it is a goal, no funny business, no bad decision, just a goal. That several mailboxers and (more worryingly) Conte’s staff don’t realise this is an indictment of their knowledge. It was an accident handball. How do we know this? Because Salah was trying to score. He was running onto a cross and misjudged it under pressure and headed it down onto his arm. He meant to head the ball into the goal not onto his arm. He did not, as Andy suggests, ‘control it with his hand’. The next action after it touched Salah’s hand was for Lloris to scoop it away. Trent then runs onto it and crosses to Robertson. A reminder of the law “If an attacking player’s accidental handball immediately precedes another player scoring, the goal will now be awarded, when last season it was likely to have been ruled out. However, a player will still be penalised if he commits an accidental handball immediately before scoring himself. ”

I get that Liverpool fans can be annoying when decisions go against us, there are a lot of us and we make a lot of noise. In the end there’s little more annoying than fans moaning about refereeing decisions but let’s keep things in perspective and not twist facts to benefit other agendas. As I said yesterday, it’s better for us as fans to focus on putting pressure on the authorities to ensure that we get better officiating across the board.
Andrew, Cambridge (LFC)


…Can I just say how I am loving the revisionism going on in current time? To the people having a go at Liverpool fans for being angry about Tierney’s performance, you do realise that pretty much every neutral was also appalled at it? Can you find me a single pundit who thinks the ref was correct? Hell, can you find a former ref who thinks the ref had a good game? I see Clattenburg was horrified at the PGMOL’s attempt to defend the ref (which essentially boiled down to: Kane didn’t break his leg, so it wasn’t a red. Seriously, go read it), and you should see some of the things Keith Hackett has said about it.

You’re showing nothing but your own biases, folks.
Jon, Bridgwater


A fan writes…
Hi d*ckhead

Your recent articles about Liverpool are disgusting and reflects your hatred and jealousy of the club. Never mind, Bigger than the clubs you support. And did you go to university to write this sh*t?


Fair play and fire breaks
Only a Liverpool fan could know that them winning the Fair Play award five years in a row was a record. Tell me, does a trophy come with that arbitrary statistic? Betcha this guy has a database of the number of Player of the Month awards they also have to use the next time their questioned in the mailbox.

One completely different comment. Whatever about the Premier League taking a circuit break or going behind closed doors again, it is silly to press on with a round of Carabao Cup fixtures bang in the middle of the current situation. Yes, they are quarter-finals, but it’s the trophy most PL clubs don’t pay much heed too all the same, and an enforced backlog in it won’t have ramifications down the line.
Brian, Wexford.

Arsenal midfielder Xhaka
Xhaka can
…in response to Stress, AFC, Canada and his missive about Granit Xhaka, I can’t say I disagree with you all that much. He’s certainly a largely competent player who certainly has the capacity to be an absolutely brain dead doughnut.

However, his return to the side this past fortnight has coincided with a massive upturn in both performances and results for Arsenal. It could even be suggested that he’s keeping Emile Smith Rowe out the side at the moment. On top of that, once we put Xhaka’s precise passing and generally conservative positioning back in the team, it freed up the likes of Saka and Odegaard to do what they do best.

So my take is, Xhaka is probably Arsenal’s best and most important midfielder, until he does something brain dead (and then he’s the worst)
Dale May, Swindon Wengerite


Kane and Conte
So no surprises in the Carabao Cup over the last couple of days, apart from the fact that Tottenham actually won. Whoever thought that a decent manager could stop Mr Sulky “Don’t you know who I am?” Trousers end his Kevin The Teenager malaise and remember that he actually is a professional footballer. Who… “One of our own…”

On the subject of Kane, I’m sure many now feel after his performance against Liverpool that he is back in his best. Ignoring the clear decline (that is right there in front of all, Rooney anyone?), question is, did it take a whole 4 months off the Euro’s before this guy is fit? Or did he just not buy into Nuno? Or was he waiting to feel the inner Danger Danger High Voltage?

His performance on Sunday was the best he’s been for a long time, didn’t play like that in the Euro’s. Has constantly been found wanting at the big dance. Which offers a massive ‘Get out of jail’ card for Spurs fans being booted out of the Conference because you are spared him fluffing his lines against PAOK Salonika in the final.

Does he need a no-nonsense manager to tell him to stick to what he’s good at? Or has Conte got nothing to do with it and the eyelids are agonisingly batting at City in January, if Torres is off, maybe he’s upped the game to piggyback on some success while he can. Surely Guardiola is not that daft.

Either not trying, not fit (Which is his own lookout he’s been a sluggish starter for years what does that tell you) plain old fashioned sulking, or is just we are looking at the modern day Andy Carroll minus the pony tail and elbows but with the backing in, fall upon a butterfly landing remotely near, and the Pepe most arseholey levels of entitlement.

Any way you want to slice it, 150 million was Charlie Chaplin levels of delirious comedy. City offer 80m NOW and that’s Laurel & Hardy. They are doing just fine as they are, but then again putting that up top might give everyone else a chance.

But, he might get double figures this year under Conte. Maybe Andy Carroll should have shaved his head and put a white shirt on.

Merry Christmas
Johnny Ironballs